Before I was baptized LDS, I had a college boyfriend with whom I was sexually active. At the time, I was under enormous pressure from him and my entire circle of friends to be intimate with him. My friends told me that after a year of dating, he really “deserved” more intimacy from me than he was getting. But the fact was that I wasn’t attracted to him physically. After our first physical encounter, I cried for several days. This went on for some time, until I was emotionally numb from the experience. It was pretty traumatic, but I didn’t really think much of it at the time other than that I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Since my baptism “erased” the experience, it wasn’t brought up again until recently, when I told my husband about it. He kindly suggested that since I didn’t want to be physically intimate, it sounded as though I had been a victim of date rape. I told him that while I hadn’t wanted the intimacy, I didn’t fight it strongly and it wasn’t an isolated occasion. His response to me was that he preferred that I hadn’t enjoyed it, equating physical enjoyment of the sex act with whether something constitutes rape. He explained (and this is vital) that it wasn’t a matter of jealousy or not wanting me to be with another man; it was a matter of virtue and obedience to commandments. What I had heard him say was that he rather I had been raped than engaged voluntarily in pre-marital sex.
My reply was something like, “You would rather I had been violated in one of the worst ways a woman can be violated, than that I had made a mistake before I was baptized that would have been covered by the Atonement?” Obviously, he hadn’t thought of it like that before. But, it got me thinking. Although we pay lip service to the idea of the Atonement being all encompassing, clearly in our LDS mindset we have embedded ideas of things that really aren’t covered by it, or things that we don’t really think God forgives us or others for. Similar to Jonah thinking the people of Ninevah should be destroyed, even after they had repented. Clearly, my husband didn’t really think it would have been better that I had been hurt physically and psychologically than that I had made a mistake. But his subconscious response gives much more insight into the thought-process of one raised LDS than what the Church teaches on the topic.
What role has the book The Miracle of Forgiveness played in our understanding of what “forgiveness” for sexual sin really means?
Do you think there is emotional harm in placing premarital sexual relations nearly on-par with murder?
Do you think that it is better to be raped than to willingly engage in premarital sex?
Are there other limits that we subconsciously place on the Atonement?